Nirmata; nirmana


Hm? What was that?

When I grabbed the photograph. The one I connected to. The fact I refused to back down and put it back on the pedestal. That stubbornness is what connected me to you. From that moment on, I could hear you.

Oh, yes! She said that, didn't she-- oh wait... you can't hear her. You can only hear me.

Hear-- the level 10 that Byron mentioned.

Yeah, that's the one.

And that would make you the level 9.

Yep, you got it!

This... is insane. This is just completely insane.

Well, yes and no. It IS insane, yes, but within the parameters of the game mechanics, you've figured things out. Actually, can I just take a moment to congratulate you? Not to knock the others, because the theories they presented were pretty awesome too. But all of your tinfoil hat postulating has been a pleasure to watch.

How can you even say that without sounding like you're patting yourself on the back?

Hah, I guess it would kind of sound like that. The difference though is that you have less of a filter than I do. Half of the ideas that worked their way into your journals were ones that I thought were too crazy to exist, but you insisted they be laid out on the table anyway, just in case. And you know what? A good portion of your ideas ended up being true! Particularly the ones I thought were too out-there to really be considered.

Thanks, I... guess?

Hey, while you were pretty quiet toward the end of the puzzle? Right before you froze? I wrote a poem about Byron. Want to see?

That sounds like a complete waste of time.

No really, you could only speak in rhyme, and I didn't know how long that whole singing thing would go on, so I wanted to make sure that if you could only speak in rhyme, that you would have a fucking sonnet to throw at him. Talk about an unexpected poetry slam.

...okay, that's actually pretty cool.

Now you can't say I never do anything nice for you.

So let me just clarify something. You're my creator, right? You created me. I'm YOUR dynamis, like Allegro was mine.

It's a little more complicated than that, but again, given the parameters of the world we're in, that's about the gist of it. It also helps to note that although we're talking about the same concept, we use very different terminology.

To you, the entire world is essentially a dynamis, and you are a story-shaper. Instead of using magic or some other kind of power to create things in the world, you have the ability to fill in the gaps of a world you didn't create. The level 1 dynamises were the unfinished parts that you spent months developing and refining. That's basically what Amical told you a couple days ago, right?

That sounds about right.

Sweet. It's hard for me to remember, because that conversation happened something like two months ago.

Two months?!

Yeah... unfortunately, given the size of the group and how busy all of us are, we can only meet for 2-3 hours a week to advance your story. I don't know if you guys can tell when you freeze and unfreeze in your world, or if it just pauses like a DVD and starts up again like nothing ever stopped. But for us, waiting on each pause to get to the next session? It is AGONY, wondering what the hell is going to happen to you guys, and worrying about all of your safety.

So if you're so powerful, why can't you just stop all this from happening?

Really, the only way I can think of to "win" for you guys is to just abandon the game. To conspire with the other level 9's to say "Nope, fuck it. We're not gonna let you guys go into that room. We're gonna write our own ending for this that doesn't involve any chance of Byron winning." Which would guarantee all of your safety, sure, but where's the satisfaction in that? What's the point of trying to tell a story if you're guaranteed success?

So you think you can just drag us around like we're your playthings, throw us into shitty situations and hope for the best?

...putting it bluntly, I guess you can say that. I mean, we DID voluntarily decide to play her game, particularly after what happened last time.

--what happened last time?

That's not import--

No. Don't even start that. If there's a crucial part of that "game" that might help us in a life-or-death situation, it'd be better for you to TELL ME than to wish you would have in the moment! Especially since you don't seem to know what's going to be relevant or not!

Hahaha, I guess you're right. I can't be too spoilery here, because you're not the only one who can hear me say this, and I don't want to get in trouble with the powers-that-be. I already have the loosest lips in the group. Long story short, we were given a happy "ending" that we knew couldn't possibly be the end. So we demanded to know what happened to a certain character. After about five minutes of "are you sure?" "YES." "Are you ABSOLUTELY SURE?" "TELL US WHAT HAPPENED, WOMAN" -- she finally caved. Cue the final "session", which broke all of us to the point where none of us, not even our level 10, could function the following day due to heartbreak and emotional exhilaration.

....are you saying we're all going to die?

Not necessarily. But to be honest, my outlook hasn't exactly been good from day one. There have actually been a few sessions where I expected YOU to give up and give your consciousness to Allegro. I have to say, your turnaround surprised me, and I was quite impressed by your resolve~ He's probably the best thing that ever happened to you.

But we didn't even know what our dynamises would become until a month or so into living in Thorn Valley. Basically what you're telling me is that you had a poor outlook of my entire life up until he became what I assume you mean is his level 4 persona.

...well, I guess now is as good a time as any to say yes. From the beginning, you were a failure, starting at rock bottom and working your way up. It took me months to figure out what to do with you, and given your proficiency in figuring out what dynamises were, and your enthusiasm for the mystery of it all, it seemed appropriate that you would dive headfirst into something that would give you purpose. And that turned into someONE that would give you purpose. It's just a shame that it took me until the last two months to really get a feel for who you are.

That's the coldest thing I have ever heard anyone say.

I don't exactly have a good reputation for being a good character mommy. But I can feel it. That rage in your heart, that balled-up fist... you've got an expression on your face that tells me you can't possibly believe a word I'm saying, but you can't deny it to yourself either. You know I'm telling the truth and you're hating me more and more, the longer this goes on.

Listen - you're not the first character to hate what they've gone through. You're just the first one that's had one-on-one time with their creator, and you can actually TELL me to my face that you think I'm a monster. That puts you a step ahead of Asia - you remember that girl Amical showed you? Sitting in a room all by herself and muttering "understood" under her breath? She only temporarily lives in that annex. She really belongs in mine. Her dynamis core is one born out of the question, "I wonder what would happen if a child grew up in a black and white world, and never learned what colors are."

--what does that have to do with anything?

You have perfect pitch, so you'll understand this analogy. Most people around you DON'T have perfect pitch. They couldn't sing you a G# on command, because they can't identify it on their own. There are programs out there that "teach" perfect pitch, by giving the student a frame of reference: "You know that this is the color red, because you just know it. How do you know this is a G#? You can't answer that question, because it just is, and you just know it." Going back to Asia, I wondered what would happen if a child wasn't taught what colors are.

Many of my "dynamises" start off with questions like that. Charlotte's another one. She was created for a story with mad science mechanics. So her character question started as, "I wonder what would happen if someone became a Genius (mad scientist), but they weren't actually intelligent." Cue broadway star wannabe Charlotte, sleeping around to get the grades she needs to keep going to college in order to be the performer she feels like she's destined to be.

So what's my "question" then?

Yours hits a little bit closer to home. When creating you, I knew you would be an ethnomusicologist, and that you paid your way through college with viola scholarships. As a composer myself, I went into college planning to get my degree in music performance, as you did. But due to outside life circumstances and straight-up failure, it took me five years to get through a community college and figure out what I want to do with my life. Although I've made the decision to focus on music composition, it's still not the singer that I initially set out to be and what set my passion in motion.

So I guess boiling it down into a question, you would have started as "I wonder what would happen if a person ended up compromising their passion for success, and they never forgave themselves for it."

Given how far you've come since then, you really HAVE succeeded. You climbed up from a lonely life writing papers, pretending you had your shit together. Now you've got your doctorate, a group of friends you can trust and confide in, a career in teaching -- that I honestly had no idea you would handle as well as you did.

I appreciate the vote of confidence.

--but seriously though. You're a complex woman who's been run through the ringer over and over, and you've come out victorious more often than not. And you can say you don't want to die anymore, right?

What would you even do if I died? You wouldn't even care. I'm just some expendable thing to you -- you even said you expected me to just go and kill myself a little while back, and it surprised you when I didn't! I don't need your empty compliments and bullshit explanations. We're going to stop Byron and close this world off from ALL of you. I'll make sure you never touch me or Allegro ever again.

In my defense, I don't control Allegro. I never did. I mean, I probably would have if you killed yourself, but you know literally as much as I do about him.

Great. I'm so glad you spend so much time worrying about him and HIS well-being. Never mind the failure you left behind.

Look, I realize you're pissed at me right now, and you totally have every right to be. I made a lot of dumb moves, and can be a really terrible character mommy. But I have NEVER left you behind. And to answer your question, just because I'm bracing myself in case you die? Does NOT mean I would be okay with it. I'm doing everything in my power to make sure that this next session goes well. I want to see you succeed. I want to see you get that happy ending with Allegro. I want the two of you to be happy. Hell, if you asked any of the others, they'll tell you I'm borderline obsessed with both of your happiness.

Is.... that.....?

I know this doesn't make things better. But hopefully this shows you that I care about you both a lot, and seeing either of you die would devastate me more than the ending of morphE.

You deserve to know a little bit more about our connection. Here. I've got seventeen journals here for you to peruse. If you're interested, I can show you Asia and Charlotte's, too. I can introduce you if you'd like. You can start a support group for abused World of Darkness characters.

It'll be headed by a woman named Navi. Don't tell her I sent you.